Fresh Blood: 5 mindblowing vampire movies

Feature by Josh Slater-Williams | 17 Feb 2017

Not all screen vampires wear capes and sleep in coffins. Ahead of GFF's screening of inventive teen vampire tale The Transfiguration, we take a look at five brilliant blood sucker movies that give unique spins on the subgenre 

The Transfiguration, receiving its UK premiere at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, is a bold calling card debut from writer-director Michael O’Shea. Its central conceit sees an African-American teen, Milo, drenching himself in vampire lore, much of it gleamed from movies, and attempting to become a blood-sucker himself.

It’s something of a ‘realist’ spin on the vampire movie, a horror subgenre that’s proved just as prone to re-examination and re-appropriation over the years as the ever adaptable zombie movie. The number of unique cinematic spins on vampire mythology far outweighs the constraints of a top five (there are five Twilight movies alone), but here’s a selection of some of the diverse, compelling options out there for creatures of the night...

Martin (1978)

Dir. George A. Romero

The most obvious film to compare The Transfiguration to is this realistic(-ish) effort from George Romero, the man behind some of the most biting (puns!) titles in the zombie genre. It's the story of a lonely, troubled young man who believes himself to be a vampire, and drinks the blood of innocent women he goes around killing through less traditionally vampiric means (sedatives and razor blades), dressing up the deaths as suicides.

Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

Dir. Robert Bierman

Thanks to online meme culture, this satirical oddity has a reputation as a supposedly unintentional comedy that’s only good for filling up compilations with clips. Actually sit down and give it a chance – preferably not at a venue throwing a ‘bad movie’ night – and you’ll find a strangely sad, often gross portrait of mania in corporate 80s America. And at its centre is a demented whirlwind of a performance by Nicolas Cage. Arriving three years before Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, it’d make a fine double bill with that book’s film adaptation.

Ganja & Hess (1973)

Dir. Bill Gunn

Led by Night of the Living Dead star Duane Jones, Bill Gunn’s film sees an archaeologist at an excavation getting stabbed by his research assistant, who then commits suicide. His knife wounds heal quickly, but due to germs on the ancient weapon, he develops an insatiable thirst for blood, which coincides with a developing relationship with his former assistant’s wife. A palpably angry, deranged film, it was recently remade by Spike Lee as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

Cronos (1993)

Dir. Guillermo del Toro

Another film featuring vampirism transferred through piercing by ancient object is Guillermo del Toro’s feature debut, in which a centuries-old, scarab-like artefact injects a burst of youthful vibrancy back into an elderly antiques dealer, only for a thirst for blood to also arise.

The Hunger (1983)

Dir. Tony Scott

Tony Scott’s sexy, characteristically stylish Hollywood debut features Catherine Deneuve as chic vampire Miriam Blaylock, who promises specially chosen people eternal life as her vampire lovers. Her companion of 200 years (David Bowie) begins to suffer illness and rapid aging, realising that though eternal life was indeed part of his bargain with the immortal temptress, eternal youth is not a sustainable part of the deal. Though a fair few of its intriguing narrative elements end up as botched opportunities, there’s still many scenes of merit, including a fantastic opening sequence in which Deneuve and Bowie’s nightclub-prowling is intercut with Bauhaus' Peter Murphy performing Bela Lugosi’s Dead straight to camera.

The Transfiguration screens at Glasgow Film Festival as part of FrightFest: 24 Feb, GFT, 6.30pm

A very special screening of The Lost Boys will take place at GFF in a secret location: 17 Feb, 6pm

Read more about Glasgow Film Festival in The CineSkinny – in print at Glasgow Film Festival venues and online at

Follow Josh Slater-Williams on Twitter at @jslaterwilliams